morning monday… summer report card…

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Hey everyone, so it has been a while since I did any kind of goal orientated post, and what with it being the beginning of the summer holidays, and the nostalgia of the end of year school report, I thought it was as good a time as any to check in with you guys, and probably more importantly, with myself.

My resolution for this year, was to carry on trying to be the person I want to be. You know that perfect version of yourself that gets up early, a bundling ball of energy and takes on the day, with shiny hair, a big old smile, and this general aura of being calm while completely bossing it? Yeah. Her.

I didn’t set myself any specific goals with this, so the sub headings here, are the areas of my life that when I imagine the girl I want to be, these are her fundamentals. Does that make sense? Like, if I get these building blocks in tip top shape, then I’m stood on a pretty good foundation.

So without further ado, or poor confused metaphor’s here goes…

Health & fitness… Stephanie has come a long way and should carry on the good work…

Guys, I’m actually in pretty good shape. Like not perfect shape, and I’m definitely still soft around the edges, but generally speaking? I’m doing ok. Of course there is always room for improvement.

My running routine isn’t anywhere near as solid as I would like it to be, but when I do get my trainers on, my times and distances aren’t all that embarrassing. I’ve never been one for public sport or exercise. I was terrible at PE at school (apart from dance) and had one or two mean comments made about me that really stuck. Not to mention the fact that co-ordination just does not come naturally to me. So other than the odd zumba class (where everyone at least THINKS they look slamming) I’d always believed I truly didn’t enjoy exercise. But that has definitely changed. Running clears my mind, and lifts my mood like few other things can, and now I’m even thinking of signing up to a real public race. A 10k might not sound like a huge challenge, but up until a few months ago I was too embarrassed to even tell people I went running in case they asked me how fast or far I went.

Other than running, because I don’t drive, I get in a fair amount of walking, but I would like to start doing more exercise that focuses on other areas and not just cardio. I throw in the odd swim, but I really want to spend a little time thinking about my strength and toning up a little bit. Nearly every week I tell myself I’ll complete at least one online yoga class, and barely ever do. But if I want to be able to touch my toes, and carry my shopping up the stairs (not at the same time) then I need to do something about it! Not to mention the fact that I don’t want my fitness to take a nose dive when the weather turns and the days get shorter, and running around the park is just no longer a viable option. It may even be time to join a gym!

Diet wise, as regular readers will know I’ve stuck it out with veganism. Again, I’m not a perfect vegan but my attitude towards food, is now much more balanced. Even when I do indulge, it is never to the level that it was before, and this is a huge improvement. I’ve never had brilliant will power, but towards the end of last year, I’d gone beyond that and fallen into some seriously unhealthy eating patterns, which weren’t doing my body, my confidence, or my mind any good.

And that shift in attitude, is the biggest improvement I’ve seen in myself since the beginning of this year. I lost weight, but even though it wasn’t as much as I originally wanted, the confidence and perspective I gained, were double that (I spoke more about this here). What’s more is I’ve kept the weight off, and stayed at one weight for longer than I have done in years. I’m happy in my body, I still have days where I think ‘oh if only…’ but I don’t hate myself. I don’t punish myself. I know, that I am lucky to have a healthy body that can do all the things I want it to do, and looks pretty good while doing it.

I want to carry on improving in this area, and at the end of summer I intend on doing a month or so of very clean living, but I know longer see health and fitness as just an impossible goal to measure my failure by, it’s just the next step on the running track.

Career… Stephanie always works hard in class but her homework lacks care and attention…

This time last year, I was new to my day job, I was excited and eager to learn, but also nervous, and scared that I would fail. Today I can hardly believe that was only a year ago. I still learn something new every week, and I’m still finding the systems that work for me, but my confidence in myself, and the work that I’m doing has grown tenfold. In June I took on a big old project, and while it didn’t all go as smoothly as I would like, I realised that things rarely do. This job, may well end in February, which forces me to regularly reflect on what I’ve done and where I’m going. I don’t want this job to end, I still have so much to learn and I love where I work, and what I do, but the idea of going back on the job market isn’t entirely terrifying. In some ways I find it quite exciting. I don’t want to tie myself down to one area of theatre, or type of arts work, so looking for a new job, feels a bit like, looking for a new adventure. Of course if having to find a new job does become a reality, I can’t promise I will be quite as chipper about the situation but for now… I’m happy, I’m confident, I think I might even be quite successful.

I love my regular pay salary job, and I know I’m very lucky to be in a position where that job is in theatre, but I never intended to get that dream day job, and stop working on my own independent, writing, shows, workshops or theatre company, and in truth, that is exactly what has happened. I haven’t performed properly in over a year, and the new show I intended to work on, hasn’t got any further than an elaborate set of scribbles in my notebooks. I’ve found it much harder to stay motivated and driven in my independent work than I thought I would, but I guess that is natural. When you spend all day working on and in theatre, you don’t necessarily want to come home and do more! Some sort of burn out was inevitable, however, I’ve recently been rethinking this extra work, and what exactly I want my side hustle to be. In particular, working out how all the areas of my life and work sit beside one another. I won’t go into that too much here, but I’m working on a set of steps to take that should make my purpose a lot clearer, and hopefully see my blog, and my theatre work sit much closer to one another.

Blog… Stephanie needs to focus on the real task at hand…

Ok, I feel like I say ‘I don’t do this for the followers’ so often that it’s beginning to sound like I protest just a little bit too much. So I am going to be straight up and tell you, that at the beginning of the year I set myself the target of reaching 500 followers on bloglovin’ by December.

I’m not going to make that goal, and that’s generally a bit disheartening.

Here’s why: I don’t want a HUGE following because I want this to be my day job, or because I want to get cool stuff for free, or to feel like a bit of an internet celebrity, but because I want to know that what I am writing is RELEVANT to people.

At the very beginning of this year, I made myself an editorial calendar and I stuck to it. I took out some small scale advertising and I saw my numbers begin to climb slowly but surely. And then all that new year gusto wore off, life got in the way of spending three nights a week blogging, and I’ve actually seen followers, and my stats in general, fall.

For the past two months, I’ve been struggling with this a little bit. I saw this down turn in views and follows as proof that what I was putting out there wasn’t relevant. However, I’ve recently realised, that isn’t true. Those of you that do pop by this space of mine, keep coming back, I love that I have conversations and comments with the same group of people, because what that means, is that what I’m writing may not be relevant to the masses but it is to a handful of bloggers out there who if they lived down the street would probably be some of my best friends. Which HEY GUESS WHAT! Is EXACTLY what I really wanted this space to be about.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of you in real life, I email more of you, all the time on my lunch breaks, and I love that. Moving to Blackburn where I knew nobody meant that blogging and you guys, really were a life line. So I guess what I’m trying to say is THANK YOU! And if you pop by here regularly, and we haven’t spoken, please feel free to get in touch.

Now I’ve done the soppy bit, what action have I decided to take about all of this. Well, I’ve got rid of my editorial calendar, so that when I do post it is because I truly have something to say. And to those 4 people that unfollowed me on Bloglovin’ (yup, it was only 4 people and I nearly scrapped the whole thing) that’s cool, maybe you don’t want to invite me round for dinner each week, but lets still meet for the odd coffee every now and then?

Relationships… Stephanie get’s on well with her classmates, and her friends are a credit to her…

At the beginning of this year I did a fair bit of reading about mindfulness and happiness, and everything I read and watched talked about the importance of strong personal relationships. At the end of last year I think I’d started to shut down a bit, and even though I still spoke to my amazing friends, all the time, I was never really TALKING to them. This is something I decided to change at the beginning of this year. I put my irrational fear, that they didn’t really care to one side and just told them everything that had been going on with me. It will come as no surprise that I instantly felt a thousand times better.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year, being really honest with people, and making sure that those people that are really important to me, are regularly a part of my life. There isn’t as much face to face time as I would like, and there are a few friends a bit further away that I want to just call more often, but generally speaking, it’s quality over quantity with my friends. I have a handful of amazing friends, that I see a handful of amazing times a year.

Of course the other thing is that I have a boyfriend now. This was never a GOAL as such, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that as I worked on myself, and started to fix all those software glitches I’d been experiencing, I started to become more open to the possibility of meeting someone, and eventually did.Getting a boyfriend wasn’t a goal, it was a happy by product, and being in a relationship is already teaching me a lot about myself, and who I have become. I’d quite like to keep learning in this more one on one way please!

Growth… Overall Stephanie has made a lot of progress this year, with just a bit more hard work, she will be well on track for a good 2016…

Final category, I promise (well done if you’ve made it this far!), and this one is a bit of an amalgamation of two things:

1. Being a grown up
2. Personal growth.

So firstly, being a grown up, is probably one of the areas, I have the most work to do in. Especially when it comes to my finances, bills, and flat. I’ve started paying more attention to what I’m paying when, rather than letting the direct debit do it’s thing and hoping for the best. I’ve also set myself the challenge of paying off my credit card off by February (to coincide with the possible change of job and circumstances). This isn’t a huge figure, but so far summer has being seriously expensive, and when you combine that with one or two unexpected bills, it’s enough to make a very sensible mans daughter begin to panic a little bit!

The other thing is me rented flat. Which generally speaking is fine, but there are a couple of things I’ve been putting off calling the landlord about, and actually they need to be dealt with. Like the ceiling peeling in the bathroom, and the wardrobe that never stood up properly in the first place.

Finally on the grown up front. I NEED to learn to drive. I’ve never been behind the wheel of a car and for 3 months now I’ve said I will book a lesson. But then something else (that I’d rather spend money on) popped up and I put it off. No more excuses though, because my parents have paid a bulk of lessons for my birthday, and I have to get them booked by, well, today actually.

The second part of this category, is personal growth, which I guess makes for a pretty good conclusion to the end of this lengthy post, which essentially is entirely about how I’ve grown so far this year.

At this point of the year I think I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting for becoming the person I want to be. I could still get up earlier, and I will always want a better morning routine (or any morning routine), I will always want to read and learn more. Write more, create more. But these are small tweaks I can make every day. Little steps like cutting down my screen time, and working on getting a night time routine, so that I’m awake enough to tackle a morning one. I’ve journalled much more this year than I’ve ever done before and found myself becoming much more interested in mindfulness and meditation. Which in turn has has made a positive shift in my attitude, something which I credit for making everything else I’ve spoken about in this post possible.

August is just around the corner, and writing this post has made me realise, is that what I really need to do, is to use the remainder of the year to keep up the good work, and polish off the edges, so that come 2016 I feel ready to go even further. In truth becoming the person you want to be, can’t be done in a year. It’s an ongoing project. I’m an ongoing project, and one, that in all self indulgent truthfulness, I really enjoy working on.

How does your summer report card read? This one is certainly better then my year 5 one which said I was a bossy little madame, and caused months of upset!

Live Life & keep working on it x

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just put your trainers on…

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So it appears I’m on a bit of a footwear/photographs of my belly and feet theme this week, and for that I only half apologise (the belly picture half).

So this time last year when I was back home and on a health kick I really got it into running. I’d always fancied the idea of being a runner, mainly because I’d always liked walking with music in my ears, and picking up the pace a little seemed like the logical next step, however, having always been notoriously slow at track and races, I’d never felt confident enough to put on those trainers and see what my legs could do. In fact until this time last year, I hadn’t even owned a pair of trainers since leaving school.

So what changed? Well, I was home waitressing, trying to work out where I was going with my life, and probably, more than anything, feeling the need to prove that I could change something that seemed unchangeable. I couldn’t force some one to give me a job, I couldn’t see into the future and find out if I’d been right to follow my heart all along, but I could buy a pair of trainers. So that’s what I did.

And gradually I felt my fitness improve. I became a runner. Sure, I was a lumbering along, uncoordinated,not so glamorous runner. But I was a runner none the less. I proved to myself that I could change things, and it wasn’t long until ‘going for a run’ wasn’t something that I told myself to do, it was just something I did.

But then life changed. Thankfully, it turns out that I was right to follow my heart, and I didn’t have to force somebody to give me my dream job, I just had to interview for it. I packed up home, and jacked in waitressing and moved to a whole new life. A life where running was quickly forgotten about.

Occasionally in those first few months I’d make it out the house, and half way up the hill, but more often than not, when I was half way up I’d soon come back down again, like a really bad Duke of York impersonator.

When things got a little Dark and Twisty for me at the end of last year, I once again had slipped back into the belief that I couldn’t change the things I wanted too. I think we all have these relapses?

At the beginning of April, I decided enough was enough. 2015 had already seen me change my diet and my outlook. I could be a runner again if I wanted too, all I had to do was put my trainers on. And so that’s what I did. It started off as once a week, and now nearly a year after I first began running I’m back into a regular routine. I’m a runner again.

I’m still not very fast, and I don’t pay much attention to how far I go, and I have no intention of signing up for any kind of race just yet, but that doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that I put the trainers on and made the change I wanted to happen.

And it really is as simple as that. If I get home from work, and really don’t fancy going for a run, but know it’s been a couple of days and I will feel better afterwards, I tell myself ‘just put your trainers on, and if you still can’t be bothered then you can stay in.’ Never once have I put my trainers on only to take them off again.

So whatever it is that you want to change whether it’s your fitness, your job, or your hairstyle, taking control can seem daunting, but just putting your trainers on? Taking one step? That’s easy. You can do that, and more. Happy Friday everyone.

Live life & put your trainers on x

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lost & found

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Happy Wednesday folks, how are you? So after a couple of days break, I now have the time and energy to do some of those ideas I’d been battling with justice, and today I want to tackle something that throughout my life has always been a topic I’ve wrestled with in one way or another.

Over the past couple of months I’ve wittered on about going vegan and how full of life it has made me feel. I’ve more energy, my skin is better and my mood is improved. There are a whole bunch of benefits that I would list before this next one. Ones that focus on being happy and healthy… Something that for me, this next benefit has a complicated relationship with.

I’ve lost weight. Around a stone. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I am chuffed about that.

When I was in my dark and twisty patch before Christmas, a lot of the things I was getting upset about came back to my body confidence, or rather my lack of it. Despite the fact that my parents have always called me ‘vain squirrel’ I have always had a shakey relationship with my appearance. I might be looking in the mirror, but 9 times out of 10 my thoughts and feelings are far from vain. Body confidence and vanity, are often tarred with a simmilar superficial brush. ‘What’s on the inside is what counts.’  I KNOW that I have much more to offer the world than my looks, and I KNOW that if I take a step back, I am lucky to have the body I have, and look the way I do.

These things I KNOW, but they are not always things that I feel.

So I have lost a little bit of weight, and I have found my body confidence. On the surface it is as simple as that. At the moment I can revel in that being a good thing. However, I also know that, loosing weight isn’t a concrete answer to body issues.

Right now, I am super happy with the way I look. I’m not even that fussed about loosing much more, which for me is AMAZING, because if you’d asked me three months ago, how much weight I wanted to banish from my hips, my thighs, my chin, I would have told you at least twice as much as I’ve currently lost. I couldn’t imagine being this weight and being this confident. That is a positive step forward.

That’s a step forward that actually hasn’t anything to do with loosing weight.

In changing my diet, I changed many things. I changed the unhealthy routines I’d gotten into, I changed the unhealthy things I put into my body, and I changed the unhealthy mindset I had slipped into. I gradually started to see the light seep in, and with that I felt less dark and twisty. I stopped linking the way I looked to the things that were making me unhappy, and gradually even those things in themselves stopped having all that much power over me.

Case in point: I’m not single because I’m unloveable, and I probably won’t die alone. I’m single because I refuse to settle for less. I was alone because I locked myself away in my flat with just a chocolate bar for company, but now I won’t settle for that either. Now I have the energy to do more on an evening, to go out to meet people, to increase my chances.

Changing my diet, changed the number on the scales, and on the surface that has brought my body confidence back. But if that number had gone down, but my unhealthy thoughts hadn’t lifted, then I would be no more confident or happy now than I was then.

Body confidence is a complicated thing. It’s something people often mistake as being linked to how we look. Change how we look, we’ll change how we feel. But that isn’t always the way, you don’t necessarily report a pound or two missing, only to retrieve your body confidence from the lost and found box. Changing your diet and your life shouldn’t be done with the single goal of reaching a target weight. That’s too narrow a picture, the truth is, I could have changed my diet, and not seen any change in my weight, but making that change, made me feel empowered, it gave me back some control, it made me look at all those other aspects that were getting me down in a different light, and that change would have come about regardless of weight loss. That’s the change that really brought my body confidence running back to me.

I will always have issues with body confidence. It is not necessarily something that will ever go away, but the more I ‘deal’ with it, the more I learn about it, the less I see it as being about weight gain, or the size of my nose, or my posture… or one of the many other things, my darker twistier side could list. Having body confidence, the confidence, to really LIVE in the body you have is more about how much you believe in your own ability to take on the life you have. Never pin your happiness, or your unhappiness on a single thing, that’s too fragile a way to live. In life a quick fix is very rarely a long term answer. Take a step back see the bigger picture, put things into perspective, because you might put your unhappiness down to you feeling ‘big’ but in the grand scheme of it, that is probably only a very small part of it. A small part that is very intrinsically linked to the whole.

Live life & look after yourself and every bit of you, inside and out x

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